From the Archives - Vibius Accaus, Valerius Flaccus, and Titus Pedanius Disobey Orders
Roman soldiers were noted for their obedience to orders. But even the most well-disciplined Romans were also sensitive to their honor, and in at least one occasion Roman troops refused to obey an order they considered dishonorable, and secured a victory as a result
In 213 BC, during the Hannibalic War, the consul Quintus Fulvius Flaccus had made a surprise forced march to the Roman colony at Beneventum, tipped off to the presence nearby of a substantial Carthaginian force under a general named Hanno. Anxious to get at the enemy before they realized their danger, Fulvius devised an ill-conceived plan to undertake a surprise dawn attack.
What happened next is recounted by Titus Livius, in Book 25 of his Roman History, lightly edited for modern readers.
Leaving their kit and all their baggage in Beneventum, they started at the fourth watch  and reached the enemy camp just before dawn.
The Romans’ appearance created such alarm that, had the camp been on level ground, it could undoubtedly have been carried at the first assault. Its elevated position and its entrenchments saved it; in no direction could it be approached except by steep and difficult climbing. When day broke a hot fight commenced. The Carthaginians did not confine themselves to defending their lines, but, being on more even ground themselves, they threw down the Romans who were struggling up the heights.
Courage and resolution, however, overcame all difficulties, and in some places the Romans had forced their way to the breastwork and ditch, but with heavy loss in killed and wounded, when Fulvius, calling round him the superior officers, told them that they must desist from the hazardous attempt. He thought it would be wiser to march back to Beneventum for that day, and on the next day to bring their camp close up to the enemy's camp . . . . To make more certain of this, Fulvius prepared to send for his Co-Consul, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, and his army and direct their joint operations against Hanno and the Campanians.
The "retire" was already being sounded when Fulvius' plans were shattered by the angry shouts of the soldiers who spurned such cowardly tactics.
The allied Paelignian Cohort happened to be in closest touch with the enemy, and their commanding officer, Vibius Accaus, snatched up a standard and flung it across the enemies' rampart, at the same time invoking a curse on himself and his cohort if the enemy got possession of the standard. He was the first to dash over the ditch and rampart into the camp. As the Paelignians were fighting inside the lines, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, the commanding officer of the Third Legion, began berating the Romans for their cowardice in letting the allies have the glory of capturing the camp, when Titus Pedanius, a centurion of the leading maniples took a standard out of the bearer's hands and shouted, “This standard and this centurion will be inside the rampart in a moment, let those follow who will prevent its capture by the enemy.” His maniples followed Pedanius as he sprang across the ditch, then the whole of the legion pressed hard after. By this time even Fulvius, seeing them climbing over the rampart, changed his mind, and instead of recalling the troops began to urge them on by pointing to the dangerous position of their gallant allies and their own fellow citizens. Every man did his best to push on; over smooth and rough ground alike, amidst missiles showered upon them from all directions, against the desperate resistance of the enemy who thrust their persons and their weapons in the way, they advanced step by step and broke into the camp. Many who were wounded, even those who were faint from loss of blood, struggled on that they might fall within the enemies' camp.
In this way the enemy camp was taken, and taken too as quickly as though it lay on level ground, entirely unfortified. It was no longer a fight but a massacre, for they were all crowded together inside the lines. Over l0,000 of the enemy were killed and over 7000 made prisoners.
This rather stiring episode not only demonstrates the initiative and courage of the troops, but it is also the occasion on which the word “cohort” first appears in literature, with the specific mention of the Paelignians, and implied in the description of Pedanius as a centurion commanding several maniples.